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Safety of chrome plated grilling surfaces

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Do chrome plated grilling surfaces leach hexavalent chromium or nickel into food?

Luka Prgin
- Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada


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Hello Luka. Unfortunately your question is a bit abstract. If you would tell us whether you are a designer wanting to know if it's safe to specify, or a consumer who knows with certainty that their vintage grill is nickel-chromium plated, or a consumer who has a shiny new grill and is just assuming it's nickel-chrome, then we could answer better.

In the year 2005, I don't think I'd design a food surface with chromium plating any longer, although it has historically been used in the past. I doubt that a grilling surface that a consumer is looking at is chrome plated; it's probably nickel plated (or polished stainless steel). But in any case, if there is chrome on it, it's metallic chrome, it's not in the hexavalent state and I don't think it can spontaneously become hexavalent from the heat. Nickel is quite acid resistant, so I doubt that much nickel can be leached out.

Please give us the background behind your question. Thanks!

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey


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I am a consumer that grills a lot of chicken, and I'm looking to purchase a rotisserie grill which has a plated rack (which is in contact with the chicken). Most of the grilling racks out there look like they have some sort of plating that appears to be chrome or nickel. I'm am coincidentally a designer and I do spec nickel plating frequently on my projects, but I'm not sure if any of these plating processes are safe to use with cooking. I'm afraid that the metals used these plating processes will leach into my food via the heat and cooking liquids.

Thanks for your help,
Luka

Luka Prgin
- Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada


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Nickel is quite inert and is used, I believe, on virtually all oven racks and baking racks and a lot of B-B-Q grills, Luka. I've never heard of any reports of toxicity; if any reader has, please correct me.

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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I believe there are several ways to nickel plate stainless. Is the Ni-contamination of food that is grilled related to the actual nickel plating process, or, are there nickel plating processes that are not recommended for grills, ovens, etc? Thank you.

Bill Emkey
- Windham, New Hampshire


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That's true, Bill, but whether the nickel plating salt was sulfamate, sulfate & chloride, etc., the deposit is nickel metal. Again, as far as I know there is no nickel contamination of food.

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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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Ted - Thanks for quick response. I often see chrome-Nickel - is the chrome component a concern regarding food. Also are different nickel plating processes more robust than others, especially at high cooking temperatures.

Electropolishing has been suggested as an alternative to the nickel plating. Any comments on this.

Thanks again!

Bill Emkey
- Windham, New Hampshire


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I don't believe there is any real danger from either nickel or chromium-- but I don't design food surfaces and a designer of this stuff has to look into FDA and other government approvals. But as I mentioned, I would probably avoid chromium, simply because who wants to defend it these days? The best process is probably sulphamate nickel because it can be done without any addition agents and they can lead to discoloration and blistering.

Electropolishing isn't quite as bright as nickel or nickel-chrome plating, but it is a great process for corrosion resistance and as a food surface because of its smoothness.

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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

July 22, 2008

The men who delivered my new stove yesterday said I could not keep my oven grills for the purpose of putting them on a fire for a bar b-q. The stove is about 25 years old. Was it made with dangerous metals for food to touch directly in those days?
Thank you for any insight you might provide.
Mimi

Mimi Gaudreau
- Magog, Quebec, Canada


July , 2008

Hi, Mimi. I've certainly never heard of anything like that and I personally find it unlikely. But a general principle is that it is always questionable to use items for purposes for which they were not intended. When that is done, the researchers and statisticians who are always busy tracking trends have no feedback through which to foresee problems. I am not chemophobic in the least, so I would probably use them myself, but there is no way to insure you that they are safe because nobody conducts double-blind research on using oven racks as B-B-Q grills.

Regards,

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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

March 2, 2009

Stainless steel is steel alloy with added Nickel and Chromium.
What is the likelihood that the Chromium or nickel would get into food if you are, lets say grilling meat or vegetables on a stainless steel surface?

Luka Prgin
- Guelph, Ontario, Canada


March 6, 2009

Hello again, Luka. Stainless steel is considered one of the safest food surfaces.

Regards,

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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

April 25, 2009

I have a follow up question to this. I am building a charcoal smoker and am considering making the firebox out of 304 SS as I have some laying around. My question is do I have to worry about Cr specifically hex chrome leaching out of the stainless during cooks. If so what is of the most concern ingesting or inhaling? I'm told the oxidation limit for 304 is around 1500 deg F and that lump charcoal/carbon burns at around 1200 to 1500 degrees. I see many gas grills have stainless heat shields over their burners and a few I've seen appear to have signs of oxidation. Does that mean they were giving off hex chrome?

Thanks for taking the time to answer.

joe biflic
- Boston, MA, USA

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